Kicking off our new Meet the Artist series is Jared Owen with a look at how and why he creates his in-depth explainer videos.
My name is Jared Owen and I am a 3D Animator from the United States.
I have been interested in animation ever since I can remember. When I was a kid I made flip books and a few simple animations on the computer, but I didn't really know what I was doing. Fast forward to college and I found out about a free program called Blender. I downloaded it right away, but it was really difficult to learn, and I didn't have a lot of free time. Over the years I spent time learning it on evenings and weekends. As I learned to animate, I wanted to make animations to put on YouTube but I wasn't sure what to animate! I wanted to make something that people would actually search for and find useful. I love learning new things, so I decided to make animations on how things work.
One of my first explainer videos was about the Solar System. This has now gained more than 5 million views on YouTube!
One of my favorite things to do is go to the library and just browse and see which books interest me. I have a special interest in engineering and anything that has to do with outer space. There are many other topics that will also catch my eye. It's neat to combine my animation skills and my love of learning; it's a win-win for me. With each new animation that I posted, I began to realize how powerful this could be. You can explain things with 3D animation that you can't do with just words (or even 2D animation). There are topics that many people would love to learn about but there aren't any good videos about it. I can fill the gap!!
My inspiration comes from a variety of different places. I will walk different places and see what objects I could take apart and animate; toy stores or hardware stores are especially good for this kind of thing. I will think about topics that interest me such as computers, software, or space and see what ideas come. Family, friends, and viewers on YouTube always have new ideas for me. My idea list keeps growing so I have to prioritize how interested I am and also how many views I think the video will get.
When I've picked a topic for an animation, I learn all I can about that topic. Read books, Google search, talk to experts if I can, and watch YouTube videos and documentaries. If it's a physical object, then I will take it apart to learn how it works (such as the Nerf Gun).
Then I start 3D modeling - this can take a long time depending on how complex it is. I'll write the script and record my voice on the computer. I use Audacity to edit the audio for my video - this is another awesome open source (free) program. The animation comes first - then I will go through and match my voice up with the animation. It takes a while to get it just right. Then there's adding the music, which I usually find in the YouTube audio library. When it's all done then I do an Open GL animation and send it out to a few family members and friends and ask for their feedback. Once I finalize everything then it's time to render! This can take anywhere from 20-100 hours depending on the complexity of the animation. Then I post to my YouTube channel.
Here’s a screenshot of what the dopesheet might look like when the animation is complete:
I have a bachelor's degree in computer science which can really come in handy with animation. I use my programming skills to extend Blender’s functionality with Python. This helped out a lot when creating and animating the 88 hammers of a Grand Piano!
I also explore helpful add-ons made by the Blender community. One recent Blender add-on that I've started using is Animation Nodes. It's very powerful for animating complex sequences that would be otherwise tedious to animate. A good example of this is the trees in my recent Buckingham Palace video.
My favorite topic so far is my 3 part series on the Apollo Spacecraft:
These animations took me 6 months to make. It was sometimes difficult to find time for research and animation. My wife and I had our first child shortly after I released the first part on YouTube. At the time I also had a day job as a software engineer so I would get up early in the morning or stay up late at night to keep making progress. When I started the project, I really didn’t have an idea of how much time it was going to take! I thought it was only going to be a month or two at most.
I’ve always had an interest in this kind of thing. Apollo 13 is one of my favorite movies and I wanted to really understand how each part of the rocket worked. You start out with this giant rocket stack and only a small part of that makes it back to Earth. How does that work? So many unanswered questions! I spent hours sifting through articles, old NASA documents and a few documentaries on the different vehicles. I wanted to make sure I got all the little details right but also kept it entertaining for a wide audience; this is sometimes a difficult balance to achieve. I originally planned on it being only one video but it kept growing in length so I decided to split it into 3 parts (at one point I considered making it 4 parts!).
This really stretched the limits of my skill set at the time. I had to do extensive 3d modeling for each part of the Apollo spacecraft and the Saturn V.
Learn the smoke simulator for the lift off scene:
Show the earth from orbit:
The moon from orbit:
… and let’s not forget about Splashdown into the ocean:
It’s been two and half years since I finished these video and I still look back with good memories. I intend to do more videos like this! The video that I am currently working on is about the International Space Station. I’m going to be going through in detail explaining each piece of the station - this will be a little longer than most of my other videos. I plan to release the video in early to mid December. As I create the video, I will continue to post regular updates to my Patreon page.
About the Author
Jared Owen, I create 3D animations about how things work. You can view my videos here.
- Jared Owen on BlenderNation
- Jared Owen on Blender Artists
- Jared Owen's YouTube
NIce projects and HUGE ammount of time spend on them! Very well done man
What kind of machine do you use for the Render?
CPU only or GPU?
I use a custom built machine with a GTX 1080ti. I'm excited for a stable release of 2.80 because it sounds like my render times will go down.
I just watched your video of the White House and it was amazing. What part of the country do you live in? i'd actually be interested in talking to you about doing a similar rendering of our hospital. Please contact me!!!
I never heard back from you but would be most interested in talking to you about a quote to do our hospital. Please touch base with me!
Hi, Jared if it is okay with you I would be happy to reply to Donavan to see if I can assist with his request.
I am an interior design architect with over 30 years design experience now using Bender. As you might remember I recently did an animation of a door handle sanitiser unit which can be seen here http://www.hygiene solutions.com
I have also designed and detailed a couple of hospitals.
Anyway let me know if I can help.
apologies the website example is http://www.hygienesolutions.com and I not only completed the website but also the animations included. Once again Jared, I hope it is ok if Donovan wants to contact me.
Hi, if you don't mind, I'll love to learn from you.
I am so in love with interior designing, I recently paid to learn AutoCAD, but couldn't practice as I couldn't afford the monthly subscription, so I just downloaded blender since it's free, I hope to navigate my way around it to start making 3d interior design.
I'm still a beginner, I hope to get some advice and priceless help to becoming a better designer. I'll be glad if they come from you
Nice work look awesome also very good explanation how things work.
Wondering id you use bones or constraints while animating forexample the nerf gun.
I be need your services. I have a product that requires a visual to explain it. Looks like it will be easy for you. Please contact me.
I worked at NASA on the Lunar rover for the last 3 Moon missions.
I enjoyed your Lunar Module animation, but found there is a significant error.
Hi Ron! I would definitely be interested in hearing what you have to say.
I would prefer to send an e-mail to your e-mail address - not go through this intermediary.
I would still like to send my comment directly to Jared Owen.
My e-mail is [email protected].
hey can you do video on a toy fire truck ladder assembly and a camera rig extension arm assembly?
I would still like to send my comment directly to Jared Owen.
My e-mail is [email protected].
Perhaps Jared doesn't want to correct his error.
Why not let us all know what the error was?
I love your videos, especially the Apollo ones, I would like to see on air craft carriers launch and landing arrest system's.
PS my name is Fred I'm your Uncle , not kidding you can ask your mother.
I was trying to find a video on youtube on how Lipstick and twist pen mechanism works but there is nothing like that on youtube. If you have time, please make a quick video as you did on Fidget spinner's video.
Hello Jared. I am very impressed with all your work. Starting from nerf gun, combination lock, pin tumbler lock, to simple things like the mechanism of a pen, it all makes me want to learn 3D animation. You are my role model, I want to be able to make an animated 3D video as you have made.
I have a question about being an expert in 3D animation. First, how long does it take to become a reliable 3D animation, like your video about the mechanism of a pen? Second, in each of the 3D animation projects, how long does the average time take?
Hopefully, you can quickly answer my question,
Greetings from Indonesia.
Hello, Jared. I have seen your videos on youtube and I found it pretty amazing. I'm also working on similar kind of project such as explaining stuff and doing what i love. But sometimes i get stuck because i cant afford to do training so lot of my time spend on youtube tutorials and sometimes if problems occurs while learning its hard to look for specific solutions. I would be grateful if you help me in sharing your animation process flow and how to deal with problems and where to look for solutions if i get stucked.
Hi Akshay - thanks for your comment! I turn to youtube quite a bit to find solutions to problems. There are a lot of very talented youtubers out there that make great content. My philosophy is to always keep learning. Blender is such a rich software that there's always more to learn. If you do have the money there's also paid course that help too. CG Boost and CG Cookie are my favorites. Best of luck!
Our family just finished watching a few of your videos (Burj, space shuttle), and during the depths of the pandemic, one of your videos would makes our educational playlist regularly. Amazing use of visuals, animation, and voice overs. We really appreciate your work.
Great work. I especially liked the door handle and the level of detail.
Have you ever created a tutorial to make something like this.
I am nearly 60 and have always been interested in 3D. I started using Blender about three months ago and have already managed to do a small animation. Would love to learn how to improve using your techniques. It's a far cry from what you are able to do but please take a look at what I completed.
Thank you Cathal!
I may do some behinds the scenes videos in the future - I'm just not sure when I'll get around to it. There's always more animations to make.
I watched your animation on vimeo - very cool. I didn't know a device like that existed.
Just saw your first creation on YouTube and absolutely loved it. First i thought it was easy to make such kind of animation but reading this blog of yours then I come to how hard and time consuming is this to make and learn from the beginning for every creation. Nice work keep doing it
Thanks Swapnil! It definitely takes a lot of work but it's worth it in the end.
I have an educational website whose users would benefit greatly from your animations. If you are interested in some freelance work please contact me.
My 5 year old son loves your content. He would love to see explainer videos of trucks/machines (Fire Truck, Garbage Truck, or Construction machines).
Great suggestions! Please tell your son that I said hello
I honestly use to feel happy after watching your videos, the last one I watched on space shuttle made me think- 'how I wish I can learn from this man'. Good job man.
I look forward to getting your book. Have you written, or could recommend, any beginners' level books?
I have not yet started learning Blender. Hope to get a suitable computer soon. I am researching what computer to get.
Enjoyed your solar system video. Recently saw one of the sizes of ultra giant stars.
Hi Thomas - if you are looking for tutorial recommendations then I can definitely help.
There is a ton of good stuff on youtube. Start with the 2.8 Fundamental series: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLa1F2ddGya_-UvuAqHAksYnB0qL9yWDO6
If you are looking for a paid course I recommend the Launch Pad course by CG Boost. Use my link: http://www.cgboost.com/JaredOwen
Am liking your technical explainer videos on YouTube. Would really like to see some videos showing SpaceX components:
How the Falcon 9 works (lots of parts)
How the docking mechanism to the ISS works
Hi Pat - thanks for watching my videos! Great suggestions too - I will definitely do some spacex animations in the near future
You have created some well thought out, interesting, and informative videos, many on Space.
As a member of the Space Propulsion Synergy Team, I have a challenged for you.
Have you created (or know of someone else) an animation on a Space Hotel?
If none, would you be willing to try create a practical Space Hotel?
I'm interested in a practicable Space Hotel that can house many dozens of space tourists in Low Earth Orbit, but not stupidly impractical like Elysium.
SPST can provide any technical assistance you need; as many of our members have been in the Space Program longer than NASA. (Seriously)
The most important question; what would Space Tourists do after they get to space?
Please visit our website: http://www.spacepropulsion.org
Hi Doug - Yes I would consider doing something like that. I will browse your website and look into it more. Thanks for your comment!
Long live this perseverance, may God protect you, so go ahead with strength, you and your God know that what you are doing is useful. God bless you
I was wondering if you are accepting new modular related projects for animation and if yes what's the best way to show you the system?
Mighty impressed with your work, and have been following for quite awhile.
We are a Signage and Branding implementation company, and I was wondering if you could animate a few upcoming rebranding projects for either a National Gas retail network, or a a major Bank network here in Nigeria for us. It would involve placing (animating) the signage (external as well as internal) on the final locations, as well as a walk through Inside the offices location of various signs and internal directories. On the Gas retailer it would be placement of all signage and branding on location, the Large illuminated Pylon signs, Pump branding, etc... is it something that would be of interest? I’m only asking for now. I may have to pitch for this project in the coming month And I thought a 3D animation would enhance my chances of success. I will commission a 3D presentation with full renders of course, but I thought animation might give us that extra “wow” factor.
Let me know, and we can take the conversation further?
Much appreciate your response.
Hey Jared you are really inspiring me but I don't have so many equipments that I can use to make my own video at this time. one day I will definitely make it. For right now I want to you know if you are interested to translate your graphic videos in Hindi language as in India there are lot of people want to know in Hindi because of they can't understand English very well so I can do it for you if you are interested please drop an email
Hello Jared, my name is Farhan, I'm from Iraq, I saw your work in 3D animation, well done, 8 years ago I design a car inspired by crystal, and I need your help in drawing the 3D car, I will send you the design if you agree on that subject, very easy and I will pay you for the drawing, please Reply to my email ( [email protected] )
Hi Sir Jared,
This story of your's, motivated me to learn profoundly about the Blender.
Thank you so much and keep safe.
Thanks Erick - I'm glad I could inspire you!
You're doing all of this on Blender? Really great work Jared.
Thanks Ruca - yes all of this is done in Blender. I still learn new things about Blender with every video, I hope to keep improving
Hi Jared. Great job on the Titanic video! It's my understanding that OpenFOAM works inside Blender. Do you have any experience with it? I want to perform CFD with open-source software.
Hey Thanks Jared,
thanks a lot for your great work.
A great pleasure would be to see how the Porsche 917 would work or an Piston /TurboProp Airplaine including steering like in the Pave Hawk Helicopter.
Hi, Jared! I just watched (and of course saved) your video about the ISS. Absolutely incredible work!! I've always enjoyed and greatly respected your video creations. I'm a recently retired middle-school Science teacher, and something I used to cover came to my mind when I saw the list of your vids. I wonder if you'd be interested in doing a video on the structure and functioning of a hydroelectric dam? I used to use simple drawings and pics, including drawing a (VERY) simple form of one of them on the whiteboard when I was teaching a section on electrical power generation, as part of an 'Intro to Physics', and I would always include it in a section of our Environmental Science as well. There's a few animations out there, but they're nowhere near the level of accuracy, detail and realism that your vids have. Anyway, just a suggestion. Cheers!
Hi Brian - thanks for the kind words! A hydroelectric dam is on my list - but I'm not sure when I'll be able to get to it. I would love to chat more about your ideas though. Feel free to send me an email. (you can find my email on my youtube page)
I am a college student in Turkey and I make some physics videos for high-school students. Can I use your animations to teach torque, force, and so on? I will always give credit. Thanks for coop in advance
Youtube : @mercek6
I watched your "Becoming a Youtuber with 3D Animation" and would like to know 2 things:
1. have you made additional lessons learned videos since 2019 for youtuber wannabes?
2. What steps would you suggest (and in what order) to do the following?
My long term goal is to create content that is basically a "conference room training-setting"; where engineers are taught how to analyze various "concept designs" for weaknesses or flaws - presumably before any detail design activity would start.
For example, in your clicky-pen animation... suppose we want to introduce a design change such that the clicky-pen incorporates a LED laser pointer. The animation would teach engineer how to apply the specific steps of a Design Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (DFMEA). This would involve 3D modelling, animation, etc...
I'm learning Blender basics at the moment.... haven't touched photoshop, python, or model animation, youtube, etc.
Any experience you can empart would be greatly appreciated...
Feel free to contact me